Raiders Winning, Steelers Losing, Farve's Revenge: Week Four Picks
Week four is tomorrow and I am just now writing one of these. If you didn't know, which I wouldn't expect you to know because I never mentioned it, I am in this special NFC West Pick'em competition.
There are two Bleacher Report writers per team and we all select what teams we think are going to win every week. The winners at seasons end get a jersey of their choice (paid for by the losers). Currently I am in last place.
Since I am getting trampled, I thought I'd try to explain my choices beforehand to see if it might change my luck, and logic, in choosing my selections.
Lions @ Bears
The streak is over. The Detroit Lions finally got a win. End the season now before another streak starts up.
Unfortunately, that’s not allowed so the Lions will have to take a loss this Sunday. With Kevin Smith not 100 percent, the Lions will have to rely on rookie Matt Stafford and Calvin Johnson. I don’t see them doing enough to put points on the board.
The Bears are slowly putting things together offensively. Matt Forte should have a good day, which will help Cutler convert manageable third down situations. This should be a pretty dominating game with the Bears coasting.
Seahawks @ Colts
Before the season started I thought the Seattle Seahawks would be the team to watch for in the NFC West. Turns out injuries have once again started to ruin a potentially competitive season.
What makes it worse this week is that they are facing Peyton Manning in Lucas Oil Stadium with a depleted secondary. Only chance Seattle has is to run against the Colts, but I don’t see Julius Jones duplicating last week’s numbers. The Colts will put eight in the box and force Seneca Wallace to beat their secondary.
Bills @ Dolphins
Marshawn Lynch returns this week to join Fred Jackson in the backfield. If the Bills want to win they will give both a heavy dose of carries.
The Bills will have problems stopping Ronnie Brown, Ricky Williams, and their wildcat run game. The loss of Chad Pennington shouldn’t slow down what Miami does on offense. It may in fact improve their offense now that they have an arm that can get the ball down field.
Bengals @ Browns
The Browns have been terrible and Eric Mangini has chosen to start quarterback Derek Anderson over Brady Quinn. Neither option makes me to pick the Browns, but at least with Anderson at the helm you can expect more down the field passes to Braylon Edwards. Fantasy owners hoping to get some production from Edwards should find this encouraging.
The Browns are horrendous against the run and the pass. The Bengals offense should be clicking on all levels in this game.
Giants @ Chiefs
Similar to Bengals/Browns, there’s no indication that the Chiefs will be able to stop the Giants on either side of the ball. The Chiefs have been gashed by the running games of the Ravens and Eagles so I don’t see how they are going to stop Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw.
Quarterback Matt Cassel will see continuous pressure from the Giants defensive line. Larry Johnson will need to have a major game for the Chiefs for them to even sniff the win.
Ravens @ New England
New England doesn’t look like the resurrection of 2007 like most people thought. It’s obvious Brady isn’t in full form yet and he’s facing an opportunistic Ravens defense. I see Wes Welker being the key to the Patriots offensive success. If Welker doesn’t play, Brady won’t be able to keep the defense honest and the Ravens will come after him.
Oddly enough, I actually have to talk about the Ravens offense. They are second in scoring and have a great balance of run and pass (fifth overall in both categories). Ray Rice and Willis McGahee have played great together and Joe Flacco looks like he’s in his sixth year in the league instead of his second.
Even with everything working for the Ravens, I hesitantly pick them to win. New England is at home and knows how to scrap out wins when they need to. Belichick has infused the underdog role into his team’s brain and even without the marquee names in mint condition; they will undoubtedly give the Ravens all they can handle.
Buccaneers @ Redskins
This game takes the title of “Most Boring Game Of The Week,” so I’ll only give it a few sentences.
The Bucs are terrible and will not win this game. Their best chance is to run the ball, but Tampa Bay is running into a pretty good Redskins defense. The ‘Skins have the extra motivation (and embarrassment) of trying to bounce back after losing to the Detroit Lions. There’s no way Jim Zorn can mess this up. Or can he?
Titans @ Jaguars
The Titans are excellent against the run, but due to Albert Haynesworth’s absence they can no longer get pressure with their front four. This would be really important if I believed David Garrard could take advantage of a poor Titans secondary. He’ll have an efficient game, but with Maurice Jones-Drew being bottled up he won’t convert the drives into touchdowns.
On the other side of the ball, the Jags can’t do anything right. Chris Johnson should have a huge day and Kerry Collins will chuck the ball as needed.
Raiders @ Texans
I feel like this is a trap game. The way JaMarcus Russell has been criticized the past two weeks, you would think the Raiders will never win another game this season, and maybe they won’t. But this game is completely set up for the Raiders to steal one under everybody’s noses.
The Houston Texans have given up over 200 yards on the ground. That sets up perfectly for a Raiders squad that has three capable running backs. If Cable wants to win this game he’ll Michael Bush the majority of the carries. He is their best pure runner and can quickly wear down Houston’s swinging gate run defense.
Matt Schaub has strung along two 300-yard games, but struggled in his last run in with the Raiders. Andre Johnson also struggled and was virtually non-existent with only two receptions for 19 yards. Nnamdi Asomugha will shadow him for most of the game Sunday.
This game will depend on Russell. All he has to do is complete a couple swing passes to his running backs, some throws to Zach Miller, and a few passes to some receivers. There is no way he will be as inaccurate as week two and he’s not facing a top defense like he did last week. He will put up efficient numbers.
I’m picking the Raiders. Yeah, I said it.
Cowboys @ Broncos
This is a battle of the overrated verses the underrated. Only problem is I can’t figure out which team fits what category.
The team who is able to run the ball should be the winner in this one. Marion Barber has put together two full practices and is now probable to play. This is encouraging because Tashard Choice would not have been able to carry the load against the No. 1 run defense.
But is Denver’s defense as good as the stats portray? Probably not, but they have enough to keep Cowboys injured running game from being a major factor. That would put the ball in the hands Tony Romo and you never know what kind of game he will have.
I don’t think Denver’s running game is as good as advertised, but I do think their pass rush is for real. They will pressure Romo into a number of ill-advised passes (or I should say typical passes in Romo’s case) that will land into an opportunistic secondary led by Brian Dawkins.
The Broncos won’t do anything to hurt themselves on offense and Correll Buckhalter and Knowshon Moreno will both have good games. Add the Broncos being at home and the ever motivating, “no respect” card that Josh McDaniels will employ and you have a Broncos win.
Jets @ Saints
Mark Sanchez seems to be following in the footsteps of last year’s rookies, Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco. This will be the game Mark Sanchez comes back to earth. The Saints defense is much improved and opportunistic in their secondary (seven interceptions in three games).
The Jets have an aggressive blitzing defense that fits the personality of their head coach. Unfortunately they are facing Drew Brees who is a master of finding the hot receiver under pressure. The Saints won’t be scoring a league leading 40 points, but they will make enough key plays to win.
Rams @ 49ers
Kyle Boller returns to a starting role due to a Mark Bulger rotator cuff injury. This might just be the spark the Rams need to get going. Maybe not against the San Francisco 49ers, but they need some kind of change to jump-start their offense.
Expect to see Glenn Coffee consistently running to the Rams second level and Vernon Davis in the red zone. It won’t be a complete blowout, but the 49ers will win comfortably.
Chargers @ Steelers
Ladanian Tomlinson is expected to return to the lineup, but I doubt he makes much of an impact against a stout Pittsburgh run defense. The Steelers don’t have a running game either, so this will be a battle of the quarterbacks.
Troy Polamalu is out and Phillip Rivers has a number of big options to throw to. He will make the fantasy football goons very happy. Big Ben should also have a good game since San Diego’s pass rush has been pedestrian. He’ll have all the time in the world to work his backyard football magic.
Both teams are very similar. No running game, shaky offensive lines, and two great quarterbacks. Whichever teams QB has the ball last will be the one that wins. I expect it to be San Diego.
Packers @ Minnesota
Brett Favre’s revenge looms near. The downplaying Favre has done in recent interviews is comical. You know he wants to torch the Green Bay Packers, and torch them he will—by handing the ball off to Adrian Petersen.
AP is going to have a huge game under the Monday night-lights against a defense that is not as advertised from the preseason. Aaron Rodgers will have to win the game on his own as the “Williams Wall” will bottle up Ryan Grant and the run game. He’ll have a good game, but it won’t be enough.
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